How do you open a Japanese yen account?
July 17, 2007 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone, I'm planning to stay in Japan for a year start the end of next year. To do that, I need to save money. I'm in Canada and since the Japanese yen is low at the moment, I'd like to save money in Japanese yen right away. However, I'm not sure where I can go to open an account in Japanese yen which would be both accessible in Canada and Japan.

Any suggestions? Can I open an account at the bank you're recommending me? Can I use my account online or by any other self-serve means, or do I need to go at the counter? Does the bank have sufficient branches in both Canada and Japan? What are the fees to keep the account open and to do transactions?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by remi to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
HSBC does this. It's classed as a business account, though, and it's not interest-bearing, so you may be better off just using a high-interest savings account as a hedge against a strengthening yen.
posted by holgate at 5:47 AM on July 17, 2007

I can't help you with specific branch recommendations (although when i was in Japan I used citibank because they had the best english-language services available)... however, given that the value of the Cdn$ is steadily increasing, it might be a good idea to hold on to it for now. Even with the latest interest rate hike by the BoC, it doesn't show much sign of weakening.

If you are really keen to get your hands on Yen now, since you are unlikely to be able to find a savings account that pays any meaningful interest rate (since interest rates in Japan are close to zero), you could always just start building up some cash in yen (just convert cash to cash I mean, and store it somewhere safe).

However, until the Cdn$ looks like it has peaked, I think you'd be better off just starting up a separate savings account in Cdn$ (HSBC actaully has a great online-only savings account available right now that pays at 4.5% interest on every dollar, with no montly fees -- highly recommended) that put some money into every month. Follow the Cdn$, and if you think it has peaked, start converting it into cash yen.
posted by modernnomad at 7:22 AM on July 17, 2007

Citibank is everywhere in Tokyo and has good online service as well:

Citibank International Personal Banking

Still, the Canadian Dollar has been steadily increasing against the Yen and seems like the better currency right now.
posted by ChuckLeChuck at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2007

To put things in proper perspective, though, 5% on $5000 is $250 in potential interest keeping it in $.

For the next year there's at least a 10% volatility range in the JPY, 10% stronger, that's Y60,000 lost by not buying yen now.

But overall I think banking on momentum makes the most sense . . . keep your savings in Cd$, where the 5% interest you'll be getting should be boosted by the weakening USD.

Intending to perhaps go back to Japan next decade, I actually put half my IRA into FXY, a new ETF that tracks the strength of the yen quite closely. This is one hedge that is available to you, and it only costs ~$20 to get in & out, assuming you have $10 equity trades.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:39 AM on July 17, 2007

Seconding Citibank, and thirding the fact that you should keep your money in canadian dollars for the time being.

That said, don't go to citibank when you get to japan, go to Shinsei.
They also have an all english service, they're less expensive and they are better implanted in Japan.
posted by SageLeVoid at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've used 'em, and they're not at all bad, or weren't a few years ago.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:37 PM on July 18, 2007

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